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Cloud and Lean Transformation from Capabilities Viewpoint

Authors: Raija Kuusela, Antti Sirkka, Tuija Kuusela-Korva

Category: research article

Keywords: Cloud, Lean, Organizational learning, Capabilities

Abstract: Today, the cloud phenomenon is challenging companies’ product and service development and also their business and revenue models. Many companies are in the middle of a fundamental change – transformation – in order to benefit from the opportunities that the cloud offers. At the same time, interest in lean thinking has grown in industries and research communities. Lean paradigm is assessed as a potential means to help companies pursue efficiency and better organizational performance. This paper discusses cloud and lean transformation in a large Information and Communication Technology (ICT) company, which has risen to the challenge of the cloud. This paper studies if organizational learning, which is one corner stone of lean thinking, has impact on the company’s capabilities. This paper proposes a revised transformation framework with the new aspect of capabilities.

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reviewer542-2 says:
Jun 06, 2012 10:05 AM

This is a very concise paper with clearly defined research questions and connection to theoretical background. The paper is well organized and easy to read. However, there's a lot going on in the paper and due to the overly concise nature of the text, the paper does not offer a clear picture to the reader of the reasonings of the choices made regarding the research design, methods used, and the analysis and conclusions made. Hence, the discussion remains at a very shallow level and the logic between the study conducted and the results gained is not clear.

From my perspective, the biggest issue lies with the data section which is quite poor. Typically case study is intensive, in-depth method (typically aiming to answer 'how' or 'why' types of questions) and since the research questions are of descriptive nature (as well as the answers presented in results), I would need to see some justification for the method chosen. Especially when (one of) the result(s) presented is a revised transformation framework, the analysis of the data and the discussion needs to be made visible to the reader in order to see the reasoning behind the revised framework. I would recommend re-considering the scope of the study and/or rewriting the findings section in order to explain how the results were gained.

reviewer542-1 says:
Jun 18, 2012 12:52 PM

The paper discusses a topic that is contemporary and relevant in today’s software business. The authors focus on important aspect of transformation, i.e. the organizational learning and propose a clear description of the key elements of the topic. In overall, the paper is clear to read and well structured.

However, there are couple issues that would need further consideration and clarification. Firstly, the capabilities viewpoint, which was stated even in the title of the paper, was not discussed at all. It seemed that the paper instead focused on the organizational learning viewpoint, which is rather different from the capabilities viewpoint. Furthermore, the research questions seemed to be more quantitative than qualitative in nature, as the answer to them would be a list of issues (question 1) and yes or no (question 2). Thus, I propose to revise the research questions (and better match them with the paper title).

Another critical issue was the data analysis, which was quite vaguely described and shallow. For example the research question 1 was simply asked from the interviewees and their answers were presented at the paper. Thus, no deeper analysis or observations on the enablers and obstacles for organizational learning were presented. There might exist some hidden enablers and obstacles that are beyond the interviewees’ awareness, but could be detected by researchers. The second research question was not even answered. Also, there were actually no results presented from the workshops, which made unclear what their meaning in the research was.

Finally, the research data was collected from one team within the case company, which made a bit unclear how the organization / enterprise level learning was handled empirically.

In overall it would be interesting to get detailed findings from the transformation process itself, so looking forward the future writings from the case.

Raija Kuusela
Raija Kuusela says:
Jun 19, 2012 02:16 PM

Thanks for the comments, I will update the paper.

associateEditor542 says:
Aug 22, 2012 08:59 AM

I fully agree with the other reviewers on how to develop the paper. Looking forward to seeing the next version.

Raija Kuusela
Raija Kuusela says:
Aug 31, 2012 10:57 AM

A revised version of our paper is now uploaded. Modifications made:
- Renaming the title of the paper to “Organizational Learning in Cloud and Lean Transformation” in order to better describe the contents of the paper. The paper discusses organizational learning, not that much organization’s capabilities.
- Two research questions replaced with one: How does organizational learning relate to an organization’s transformation?
- Minor modifications in chapter 2 (shortening)
- Case company and case unit are under the chapter “Research Design”
- Research methods remains as case study. Runeson & Höst added as reference 27
- “Findings from the Workshops of the Development Team”: text under the table complemented with text describing the results of the workshops added
- Renaming chapter “Revised Transformation Framework” to “Results”. The whole chapter is modified.
- Subchapter “Reflecting Findings to Levels of Learning” describes how three learning levels are taking place
- Subchapter “Reflecting Findings to Organizational Learning Framework” discusses how the findings come down on the framework
- Subchapter “Reflecting Organizational Learning Framework to Transformation Framework” tells how we ended up with the revised transformation framework

associateEditor542 says:
Dec 30, 2013 10:59 AM

The paper has been improved based on the previous round's comments but still has some problems. First,the theoretical framework that combines cloud and lean transformation together is a good and valid idea. Due to the strict page limitations, however, it appears difficult to really go through the relevant literature to base the combination. The presented learning framework seems a partial solution to the problem as part of the rooting discussion is lacking. It could also be mentioned that there are differing definitions of and approaches to single-loop, double-loop, and triple-loop learning, and I am not fully convinced that the selected theoretical basis is the best one to be used here.
The best part of the paper is its empirical discussion and reflection to the learning loop -discussion in the results section. I find the findings relevant to many cloud business organizations as cloud is not only a software related problem but influences the whole organization in many ways. To conclude, the paper has its merits even though it also has some limitations. In my opinion the paper could be published as a jurnal paper.

Pasi Tyrväinen
Pasi Tyrväinen says:
Dec 31, 2013 11:49 AM

Editor decision: It seems that this paper brings forth an interesting opening on combining cloud and lean transformation, which is worth discussion in the academic community. As the associate editor states, the limited space does not enable opening up all the relevant background for the readers. In this kind of forum we can allow further discussion on the relevant background items in the discussion section as needed. Thus we welcome commenting the baseline, as appropriate, while publishing the condensed version of the paper in the next issue.
On this basis, we are happy to accept the manuscript to the next issue of the journal.
Congratulations for the authors!

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